Ethnic Studies

Catalog Home

Math and Science Bldg. (38), Room 136
Phone: 805.756.1707
https://ethnicstudies.calpoly.edu

Department Chair: Denise A. Isom

Academic Programs

Program name Program type
Comparative Ethnic StudiesBA
Ethnic StudiesMinor
Indigenous Studies in Natural Resources and the EnvironmentMinor

The Ethnic Studies Department uses inter- and multidisciplinary approaches to study the lives of Indigenous, African, Latino/a, and Asian peoples in the United States within a global and postcolonial context. The Ethnic Studies curriculum provides students with unique forms of critical inquiry that advance their analysis of race, ethnicity, and cultural difference in an increasingly heterogeneous and complex world. Courses in Ethnic Studies examine how social hierarchies frame access to political power, allocate economic resources, and influence cultural expression. By critically exploring such issues, students develop not only a greater understanding of the legacy of racism, discrimination, and injustices in the United States, but also a greater appreciation for new and emerging knowledge about diverse American peoples and their global and transnational connections.

Housed in the College of Liberal Arts, the Ethnic Studies Department at Cal Poly encourages critical dialogue about race, ethnicity, postcoloniality, and transnationalism across the entire university curriculum, with special focus on concepts that integrate the arts, humanities, and social sciences, as well as the sciences and technology. The department offers a number of courses that fulfill both general education and United States Cultural Pluralism requirements. A minor in Ethnic Studies is open to all majors and provides a useful complement to the differing types of inquiry used in the wide variety of disciplines throughout the University.

Undergraduate Programs

BA Comparative Ethnic Studies

It is expected that students who demonstrate the foregoing learning outcomes will be better prepared to understand the social, cultural, political, historical, and economic factors that have shaped their own social and occupational identities, as well as the social and occupational identities of others. This knowledge should better prepare students to work, collaborate, and interact more responsibly and effectively in an increasingly diverse and globalized workplace and world.

Degree Requirements and Curriculum


Ethnic Studies Minor

An Ethnic Studies minor provides students with special competence in the histories and experiences of diverse communities and the critical skills with which to understand complex social issues. Students majoring in subjects across the university curriculum find Ethnic Studies useful, particularly when their interests require a deeper understanding of race, ethnicity, and diversity in the United States and beyond. The minor prepares students for careers in education, government, and community organizations; for entrance to professional schools in areas such as law, social work, and health; and for graduate studies in all areas of the arts and sciences. 

Minor Requirements
 

Indigenous Studies in Natural Resources and the Environment Minor

An interdisciplinary minor sponsored by the departments of Natural Resources Management and Environmental Sciences and Ethnic Studies. For more information, see the Natural Resources Management and Environmental Sciences section.

How to Read Course Descriptions

ES Courses

ES 112. Race, Culture and Politics in the United States. 4 units

GE Area D1; USCP

Term Typically Offered: F, W, SP

Introductory and interdisciplinary study of the ways that race and ethnicity are created by both historical processes and American institutional formation - specifically social, political, economic, legal and cultural institutions. Special attention paid to the interlocking systems of race, class, gender and sexuality. 4 lectures. Crosslisted as ES/HNRS 112. Fulfills GE D1 and USCP.

ES 114. Introduction to Ethnic Studies: Race in the United States. 4 units

USCP

Term Typically Offered: W

Racial equality movements, including the history of Ethnic Studies (1960's & 70's), and the social practices, institutions, cultural representations/discourses, and public policies that construct and reinforce racism, racist ideology, and pseudo-scientific conceptions of race and intersections with gender and class. 4 lectures. Fulfills USCP.

ES 200. Special Problems. 1-4 units

Term Typically Offered: F, W, SP

Prerequisite: Consent of department chair.

Supervised investigation, including a written report, of a topic chosen with prior approval of instructor. Total credit limited to 4 units.

ES 212. Global Origins of United States Cultures. 4 units

GE Area D3; USCP

Term Typically Offered: TBD

How the global dispersal of Europeans, Asians, and Africans, the hemispheric dispersal of Latin Americans, and the forced internal migration of Native Americans have contributed to American cultural heritage and the struggles for ethnic, class and gender equality, and justice. 4 lectures. Crosslisted as ES/HNRS 212. Fulfills GE D3 and USCP.

ES 215. Planning for and with Multiple Publics. 4 units

USCP

Term Typically Offered: SP

Prerequisite: Completion of GE Area D1. Recommended: ES 112.

How the social/spatial relationships among racial/ethnic and gender groups are expressed in terms of human settlement patterns, civic involvement and everyday negotiations. Ways in which segregation and marginalization are expressed in western and non-western contexts. 4 lectures. Crosslisted as CRP/ES 215. Fulfills USCP.

ES 241. Survey of Indigenous Studies. 4 units

GE Area D3; USCP

Term Typically Offered: F, W, SP

A survey of the interdisciplinary field of indigenous studies and specifically the social, political, economic, legal, and cultural institutions of American Indian, Native Alaskan, and Native Hawaiian peoples within a transnational and global context. Special attention paid to the interlocking systems of race, class, gender, and sexuality, particularly within but not limited to the United States. 4 lectures. Fulfills GE D3 and USCP.

ES 242. Survey of Africana Studies. 4 units

GE Area D3; USCP

Term Typically Offered: F

A survey of the interdisciplinary field of Africana Studies and specifically the social, political, economic, legal, and cultural institutions of African American, Afro-Caribbean, and African diasporic peoples within a transnational and global context. Special attention paid to the interlocking systems of race, class, gender, and sexuality, particularly within but not limited to the United States. 4 lectures. Fulfills GE D3 and USCP.

ES 243. Survey of Latino/a Studies. 4 units

GE Area D3; USCP

Term Typically Offered: F, SP

A survey of the interdisciplinary field of Latino/a Studies and specifically the social, political, economic, legal, and cultural institutions of Chicano/a and other Latino/a peoples within a transnational and global context. Special attention paid to the interlocking systems of race, class, gender, and sexuality, particularly within but not limited to the United States. 4 lectures. Fulfills GE D3 and USCP.

ES 244. Survey of Asian American Studies. 4 units

GE Area D3; USCP

Term Typically Offered: F, SP

A survey of the interdisciplinary field of Asian American Studies and specifically the social, political, economic, legal, and cultural institutions of West Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and East Asian peoples in the United States within a transnational and global context. Special attention paid to the interlocking systems of race, class, gender, and sexuality, particularly within but not limited to the United States. 4 lectures. Fulfills GE D3 and USCP.

ES 270. Selected Topics. 1-4 units

Term Typically Offered: TBD

Prerequisite: Open to undergraduate students and consent of instructor.

Directed group study of selected topics. The Schedule of Classes will list title selected. Total credit limited to 8 units. 1 to 4 lectures.

ES 300. Chicano/a Non-Fiction Literature. 4 units

GE Area C4; USCP

Term Typically Offered: SP

Prerequisite: Junior standing and completion of GE Areas A and C1.

Overview of contemporary Chicano/a non-fiction literature since 1848. Thematic concerns, literary criticism, literary techniques, historical and socio-cultural factors influencing non-fiction Chicano/a literary genres. Instructor reserves option to select non-fiction genres to be studied. 4 lectures. Fulfills GE C4 except for Comparative Ethnic Studies majors. Fulfills USCP.

ES 308. Fire and Society. 4 units

GE Area D5

Term Typically Offered: TBD

Prerequisite: Junior standing; completion of GE Area A3 and one lower division course in GE Area D.

Prehistorical and historical record of human use of and attitude toward fire. Mythology and religion of fire. Traditional, cultural and ethnic variations and their influence on modern U.S. institutions involved in managing fire. 3 lectures, 1 activity. Crosslisted as ES/NR 308. Fulfills GE D5.

ES 310. Hip-Hop, Poetics and Politics. 4 units

GE Area D5; USCP

Term Typically Offered: W

Prerequisite: Junior standing; completion of GE Area A and one lower division course in Area D. Recommended: ES 112 (D1) or any ES D3 course.

Dynamics of hip-hop culture, its historical development, political significance, and social influence. How hip-hop exemplifies cross-cultural hybridization within not only Black communities nationally and internationally, but also amongst indigenous, Latino/a, and Asian peoples in the U.S. and beyond. 4 lectures. Fulfills GE D5 except for Comparative Ethnic Studies majors. Fulfills USCP.

ES 320. African American Cultural Images. 4 units

GE Area D5; USCP

Term Typically Offered: F

Prerequisite: Junior standing; completion of GE Area A and one lower division course in Area D. Recommended: ES 112 (D1) or any ES D3 course.

Comparative study of the cultural representations of, and counter-representations by, American racial/ethnic groups in American popular opinion and consciousness, with particular emphasis on African Americans. 4 lectures. Fulfills GE D5 except for Comparative Ethnic Studies majors. Fulfills USCP.

ES 321. Native American Cultural Images. 4 units

GE Area D5; USCP

Term Typically Offered: W, SP

Prerequisite: Junior standing; completion of GE Area A and one lower division course in Area D. Recommended: ES 112 (D1) or any ES D3 course.

Comparative study of the cultural representations of, and counter-representations by racial/ethnic groups in American popular opinion and consciousness, with particular emphasis on Native Americans. The cultural images of Native peoples in the United States that have characterized relationships. 4 lectures. Fulfills GE D5 except for Comparative Ethnic Studies majors. Fulfills USCP.

ES 322. Asian American Cultural Images. 4 units

GE Area D5; USCP

Term Typically Offered: W

Prerequisite: Junior standing; completion of GE Area A and one lower division course in Area D. Recommended: ES 112 (D1) or any ES D3 course.

Comparative study of the cultural representations of, and counter-representations by, American racial/ethnic groups in American popular opinion and consciousness, with particular emphasis on Asian-Americans. 4 lectures. Fulfills GE D5 except for Comparative Ethnic Studies majors. Fulfills USCP.

ES 323. Mexican American Cultural Images. 4 units

GE Area D5; USCP

Term Typically Offered: W, SP

Prerequisite: Junior standing; completion of GE Area A and one lower division course in Area D. Recommended: ES 112 (D1) or any ES D3 course.

Comparative study of the cultural representations (racializing images and discourses) of, and counter-representations by, American cultural/ethnic groups in American popular opinion and consciousness, with particular emphasis on Mexican Americans/Latinos. 4 lectures. Fulfills GE D5 except for Comparative Ethnic Studies majors. Fulfills USCP.

ES 325. Sexuality and Gender in African American Communities. 4 units

USCP

Term Typically Offered: TBD

Prerequisite: Completion of a course in GE Area D1 or D3. Recommended: ES 112 or ES 212.

Gender and sexuality issues that influence the social, political, economic and cultural development of African-America. Special attention given to how racism affects the realization of standard gender conventions within black communities, as well as to myths of black sexuality, black feminism, and queer politics. 4 lectures. Fulfills USCP.

ES 326. Native American Architecture and Place. 4 units

GE Area C4; USCP

Term Typically Offered: TBD

Prerequisite: Junior standing; completion of GE Areas A and C1.

The role of culture and setting in the construction of spatial, material and landscape concepts and artifacts, through the introduction of selected North American cultures, with focus from 1300 AD through contemporary time. 4 lectures. Crosslisted as ARCH/ES 326. Fulfills GE C4. Fulfills USCP.

ES 330. The Chinese American Experience. 4 units

GE Area D5; USCP

Term Typically Offered: SP

Prerequisite: Junior standing; completion of GE Area A and one lower division course in Area D. Recommended: ES 112 (D1) or any ES D3 course.

History and current status of Chinese Americans, with emphasis on the international contexts, organizations and institutions of Chinese America, and on Chinese Americans' demographic compositions, spatial patterns, and cultural, socioeconomic, and political adaptation experiences. 4 lectures. Fulfills GE D5 except for Comparative Ethnic Studies majors. Fulfills USCP.

ES 335. The Filipina/o American Experience. 4 units

GE Area D5; USCP

Term Typically Offered: W

Prerequisite: Junior standing; completion of GE Area A and one lower division course in Area D. Recommended: ES 112 (D1) or any ES D3 course.

An interdisciplinary examination of the historical development of Filipina/o American identities and communities. The social, cultural and political institutions that have influenced Filipina/o immigration, participatory citizenship, activism and cultural practices. 4 lectures. Fulfills GE D5 except for Comparative Ethnic Studies majors. Fulfills USCP.

ES 340. Cultural Production and Ethnicity. 4 units

GE Area C4

Term Typically Offered: F, W, SP

Prerequisite: Junior standing; completion of GE Area A and one lower division course in Area C. Recommended: Completion of one ES course.

Culture and ethnicity as key factors in the production, perception, and interpretation of art and the humanities. Critical analysis of cultural attitudes and knowledge in expressive arts and cultural production, and of the contexts of cultural production as reflective of ethnicity. The Schedule of Classes will list topic selected. Total credit limited to 12 units. 4 lectures. Fulfills GE C4 except for Comparative Ethnic Studies majors.

ES 345. Queer Ethnic Studies. 4 units

GE Area D5; USCP

Term Typically Offered: F, W, SP

Prerequisite: Junior standing; completion of GE Area A; and one course from lower division Area D.

Theories, research and methods focused on the interlocking systems of sexuality, race, racialization, and ethnicity in local, national and comparative global/transnational contexts. Relationships between racialization and heteronormativity; queer of color critique; queer migration; decolonizing queer organizing, theory, and knowledge production. 4 lectures. Crosslisted as ES/WGS 345. Fulfills GE D5 except for Ethnic Studies majors. Fulfills USCP.

ES 350. Gender, Race, Culture, Science and Technology. 4 units

GE Area F; USCP

Term Typically Offered: F, W, SP

Prerequisite: Junior standing; completion of GE Area B.

Interdisciplinary examination of the complex relationships between gender, race, culture, science, technology in educational, work, knowledge production, policy, and ethical contexts. Topics may include reproductive, medical, genetic, and emerging technologies and exploration of efforts to create more socially responsible science/technology. 3 lectures, 1 activity. Crosslisted as ES/WGS 350. Fulfills GE Area F and USCP.

ES 351. Gender, Race, Class, Nation in Global Engineering, Technology & International Development. 4 units

GE Area D5

Term Typically Offered: SP

Prerequisite: Junior standing; completion of GE Area A and one lower division course in Area D.

Cross-cultural exploration of the intersections of gender, race, class, nation in the global engineering workforce, small- and large-scale technological systems, and international development programs; special attention to 21st century challenges and efforts to create more socially responsible engineering and technology. 4 lectures. Crosslisted as ES/WGS 351. Fulfills GE Area D5 except for Comparative Ethnic Studies majors.

ES 360. Ethnicity and the Land. 4 units

GE Area C4; USCP

Term Typically Offered: W, SP

Prerequisite: Junior standing; completion of GE Area A and one lower division course in Area C. Recommended: One lower division Ethnic Studies course and an introductory natural resources course.

Comparative study of how race and culture shape landscapes, and how social hierarchies allocate the use of natural resources and the burdens of environmental pollution. 4 lectures. Crosslisted as ES/NR 360. Fulfills GE C4 and USCP.

ES 380. Critical Race Theory. 4 units

GE Area D5; USCP

Term Typically Offered: W, SP

Prerequisite: Junior standing and completion of GE Area A, and D1 or D3.

History and evolution of the critical race theory movement. Defining issues of the field; in particular, the relationship between race, power and the law. 4 lectures. Fulfills GE D5 except for Comparative Ethnic Studies majors. Fulfills USCP.

ES 381. The Social Construction of Whiteness. 4 units

GE Area D5; USCP

Term Typically Offered: SP

Prerequisite: Junior standing; completion of GE Area A and one lower division course in Area D. Recommended: ES 112 (D1) or any ES D3 course.

The investigation of the social construction of race in the United States through historicizing the category of 'whiteness.' Why 'white' was invented as a racial category and how white privilege has been sustained through social, political, economic and legal practices. 4 lectures. Fulfills GE D5 except for Comparative Ethnic Studies majors. Fulfills USCP.

ES 390. Research Methodology in Comparative Ethnic Studies. 4 units

Term Typically Offered: F

Prerequisite: Completion of Area A, STAT 217, ES 112, junior standing and three courses from ES 241, ES 242, ES 243, ES 244.

Theory and practice of research methodology in comparative ethnic studies. Topics include the scientific method, qualitative and quantitative methodologies, and ethical practices. Research report prepared from start to finish, including database searching, collecting pilot data, and proper formatting of a research report. Issues of race in research practice and use foregrounded throughout. 3 lectures, 1 activity.

ES 400. Special Problems for Advanced Undergraduates. 1-4 units

Term Typically Offered: F, W, SP

Prerequisite: Junior standing and consent of department chair.

Individual investigation, research, studies or surveys of selected problems. Total credit limited to 4 units.

ES 406. Indigenous Peoples and International Law and Policy. 4 units

Term Typically Offered: TBD

Prerequisite: ES 241; and NR 141 or NR 142; and junior standing required.

Interdisciplinary examination of the evolution of international law effecting indigenous peoples in the U.S. and in the Americas. Development of international legal and sociological norms and their impact on human rights of indigenous peoples with particular attention to environmental issues. 4 lectures. Crosslisted as ES/NR 406.

ES 410. Advanced Topics in Comparative Ethnic Studies. 4 units

Term Typically Offered: TBD

Prerequisite: ES 390.

Selected topics and issues in comparative ethnic studies. Class Schedule will list topic selected. Repeatable for a maximum of 8 units. 4 seminars.

ES 450. Fieldwork in Comparative Ethnic Studies. 4 units

Term Typically Offered: W

Prerequisite: ES 390.

Supervised project based on fieldwork in comparative ethnic studies. 4 seminars.

ES 461. Senior Project. 4 units

Term Typically Offered: SP

Prerequisite: ES 390 and departmental approval.

Completion of a project under faculty supervision. Results presented in a formal paper or project.

ES 470. Selected Advanced Topics. 1-4 units

Term Typically Offered: TBD

Prerequisite: At least one course in Ethnic Studies and consent of instructor.

Directed group study of selected topics for advanced students. Class Schedule will list topic selected. Total credit limited to 8 units. 1-4 lectures.

Denise A. Isom
B.S., B.A., University of California, Davis, 1989; M.A., 1992; Ph.D., Loyola University, Chicago, 2003.

Jane L. Lehr
B.A., University of Rochester, 1997; M.S., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 2002; Ph.D., 2006.

Kathleen J. Martin
B.A., California State University, Northridge, 1992; M.A., University of California, Santa Barbara, 1993, 1996; Ph.D., 1997.

Jenell R. Navarro
B.A., Oklahoma Baptist University, 2001; M.A., Claremont Graduate University, 2007; Ph.D., 2011.

Jose Navarro
B.A., University of California, Berkeley, 2002; M.A., University of Southern California, 2008; Ph.D., 2012.

Elvira Pulitano
Laurea (B.A.), Universit√° di Messina, Italy, 1993; University of New Mexico, 1997; Ph.D., 2002.

Alpen Razi
B.A., University of Toronto, 2008; M.A., 2009; Ph.D., 2015.

Victor Valle
B.A., California State University, Long Beach, 1974; M.A., 1978; M.S.J., Northwestern University, 1981.

Grace I. Yeh
B.A., Duke University, 1995; M.A., Georgetown University, 2000; M.A., University of California, Los Angeles, 2003; Ph.D., 2007.